From the time they are admitted to the Cato College of Education Master’s in Reading Program, students preparing to become K-12 literacy specialists know that their culminating project will be a presentation to teachers across the state. For many years, Professor Karen Wood has arranged for the students to appear at the annual North Carolina Reading Association Conference. This year, 12 students, all of whom are also current full-time teachers or reading specialists, traveled to Raleigh to present on “Learning & Leading on the Literacy Landscape.”
“There is some nervousness about the project early on in their program, but the results are amazing,” said Dr. Wood. Students this year presented on three different topics.
Stephanie Ford (Tryon Elementary)
Kristen Stiles (Meadowbrook Elementary)
Katie Sorrentino (Lake Wylie Elementary)
Arden Darnell (Blackburg Elementary)
Jennifer Melton (Chapel Grove Elementary)
Ashley Bennerson (Carver Elementary)
Heather Brewer (Indian Land Elementary)
Morgan Wilkerson (Northern Elementary)
Sheryl Atkinson (Northern Davidson Middle)
Kathrine Dalton (Asheville Middle)
Phylicia Jeffreys (Spring Valley Elementary)
In the last course of the master’s program, students determine the rationale and need for their topic based upon an analysis of local, state and national data. They then research the literature and begin to prepare a research and standards based presentation. The presentation is complete with handouts, a resources webpage, Powerpoint and related books and materials.
Master’s student Kristen Stiles described the experience as “amazing.”
“It was so rewarding to share our research and learning with other teaching professionals,” she said. “Presenting at the conference gave me an authentic experience of putting my work as a reading specialist into practice to support teachers in implementing strong literacy instructional practices in their classrooms.”
“Our students are committed to becoming K-12 literacy leaders and influencing student learning and achievement,” said Wood, the professor, noting that many enroll after hearing about a friend or colleague’s experience with the program.
“Our reputation is a result of the outstanding faculty who are themselves leaders in the literacy field and to our state of the art course offerings and content.”
The North Carolina Reading Association actively promotes lifelong literacy for all citizens commensurate with each individual’s unique capacity. The organization and its members encourage professional interaction among individuals and organizations involved with literacy to provide resources for exemplary literacy practices and habits.